Alternatives to Bagging Your Leaves
As the leaves begin to fall, your love-hate relationship with your rake returns. If you find yourself dreading bagging all those leaves, there’s an alternative disposal method that might be a good solution for you, according to LocalHarvest. When you throw away fallen leaves, you are also tossing out vital nutrients that your garden, lawn and plants can use. Here are a few tips, provided by LocalHarvest, on how to get more use from those fallen leaves.
Best Way to Mulch Leaves
Leaves are among the materials that can be used to create mulch. In order to create leaf mulch, you should first shred your leaves. Simply remove your lawn mower bag and mow over them and then rake up the pieces. You can also use a leaf shredder to do this.
Mulching your gardens with leaves can aid in:
- Warmth: Leaf mulch can help trap the warmth in the soil. Fall is a great time to mulch because the leaves act as an insulator to keep the soil and roots below warm during the approaching winter months.
- Moisture: Shredded leaves allow for moisture and water to travel easily down to the dirt. Over time, nutrients from the leaves make their way into the earth below. During the summer, your plants continuously soak up the minerals from the ground, so fall is a great time to give those nutrients back.
- Weed control: Leaf mulch, like other types of mulch, is used as a type of physical weed barrier. The mulch blocks the sun out while still allowing the plant roots to get the nutrients they need. Adding a 2- to 3-inch thick coat of mulch also acts as as an energy blocker for weeds. Weeds don’t have the energy to push through the layers of mulch to sprout.
Over the winter, your compost pile does the decomposing work for you, but only if you have the right ingredients. Leaves can help develop your compost.
Trees are a great source of high-carbon materials. And leaves can contain 50 to 80 percent of those nutrients, according to The Compost Gardener. As the shredded leaves sit in the compost pile over the winter, they start decomposing. It doesn’t hurt, though, to turn over the pile every once in a while, if the weather permits, to give the pile some oxygen in order to maintain air movement to keep microorganisms alive, says Wilderness Survival. These microorganisms help with the breakdown of other compost materials.
Your lawn may also reap the benefits if you don’t rake at all. That’s right — leave the leaves! If you decide to fertilize your yard with the leaves right before the winter months hit, you may be doing your yard a favor, according to LocalHarvest. Instead of a rake, all you need is a lawn mower. Just as you would to create mulch, you want to chop the leaves into small pieces.
Advantages to this method include:
- Weed blockage: During the winter months, your lawn may receive moisture from snow. That extra layer of protection of the leaves can help prevent weeds from growing when spring rolls around.
- Moisture preservation: The remaining leaves may allow your lawn to retain more moisture. By helping your lawn retain more moisture, you may have to water less in the spring.
- Grass growth: Leaf fertilizer can assist in the growth of your grass, helping it turn green next spring.
So instead of bagging and removing all those leaves, you may want to try one of alternatives. Your lawn may thank you later.
Originally published on October 16, 2014.